In a new study published recently, scientists have revealed the genetic make-ups of gibbons, a primate family of apes, and revealed how related and close it is to humans genetically. Gibbons are the last to be genetically researched among the other great apes, because the chimpanzee genome was published in 2005 and that of the orangutan published in 2011, followed by the gorilla and the bonobo in 2012.
In trying to understand its genetic compositions, scientists were able to discover the particular genetic codes responsible for the amazing ability of the gibbons to swing from one tree to another at a speed of 35 mph or 56 kph. The scientists also found genetic changes in the gibbon that would have been very problematic in other apes or even cancer-causing in real humans.
According to a primate researcher at the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Jeffery Rogers, “we now have whole genome sequences for all the great apes and, with this work, also the small apes – gibbons. This provides new information and insight into the history of the human genome, in evolutionary terms.”
Gibbons are largely monogamous, and they are omnivores – living high in forest trees and feeding on tree leaves, fruits, insects, birds, and bird eggs. They weigh roughly 11 pounds and above, and can swing through forest branches with their long arms which are 1 ½ longer than their legs. Gibbons are close cousins to humans in terms of their genes, but they are still the most distantly related to human from among all apes.